Foreign Minister, Madam Marjon Kamara and the head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia, Amb. Tiina Intelmann, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning the observation of the 2017 presidential and representative elections – one final act as head of the EU Delegation to Liberia. Ms. Intelmann leaves the country shortly after a successful two and half year stint as head of the EU Delegation to Liberia. According to a Foreign Ministry release, the MoU signed between the Government of Liberia and the European Union at the Foreign Ministry on Monday, August 28, is based on an invitation extended to the EU on February 1st, 2017 by the Government to observe the 2017 presidential and representative elections.Full Article: Liberia Invites EU to Observe Elections | Liberian Observer.
For a nation that only won its hard-fought battle for independence 15 years ago, Timor Leste has travelled a long way fast. On 22 July, the Timorese people voted for the fourth time in parliamentary elections to elect the 65 members of the National Parliament. As the first election administered solely by the Timorese themselves, without the guiding hand of UN officials, Saturday’s poll was a significant milestone and a remarkable success. After all, this is a nation that has had to more or less build its democracy from scratch. Former revolutionary leaders exchanged their fatigues for business attire, drafted a constitution and created democratic institutions and governance. Of course there was help from the international community but there is no taking away from what has been achieved on the ground.Full Article: Timor-Leste elections a significant milestone.
Papua New Guinea: PNG citizens deprived of the right to vote – Forum observer team | Radio New Zealand
The Pacific Islands Forum’s election observer team to Papua New Guinea says a large number people were deprived of their constitutional rights to vote during the past month’s polling. The team deployed from 19 June to 24 July, and observed pre-polling, polling, and counting. In an interim statement released yesterday the observer group said there were several significant challenges noted, the most serious of which was the alarmingly large number of names missing from electoral rolls. It said this was especially disappointing given the team observed high levels of civic awareness and interest in participating in the election.Full Article: PNG citizens deprived of the right to vote - Forum observer team | Radio New Zealand News.
Angola has rejected conditions demanded by an EU election observer mission that had been preparing to witness next month’s polls in the country, state media reported on Monday. The European team had called for unfettered access to polling stations across the vast southern African nation during the August 23 vote. “So this is Africa. And we do not expect anyone to impose on us their means of observing elections or to give lectures,” said Foreign Minister Georges Chicoti according to the Journal de Angola newspaper. “The invitation stands. But we do not want to have separate agreements with all of the organisations (sending observers).”Full Article: 'So this is Africa. Don't give lectures about our elections,' Angola tells EU | News24.
Germany: OSCE mulls monitoring German election, as far-right complains of ‘massive interference’ | The Local
The intergovernmental OSCE organization is considering whether to send a monitoring mission to the upcoming German election after speaking with each of the parties, Spiegel reports. Spiegel reported on Monday that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is deciding whether to monitor the September 24th German national election. For the first time, delegates from the OSCE met with party leaders of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party at their central headquarters, who provided documentation of “attacks, violence, obstructions, and criminal acts against AfD members through private and public positions” as well as “individual acts and in their alarming sum make up a massive interference in a democratic competition for votes in the parliamentary election campaign.”Full Article: OSCE mulls monitoring German election, as far-right complains of 'massive interference' - The Local.
In a report released this week, election observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Islands and Mediterranean Region made 21 recommendations to improve the voting process in the Cayman Islands. Their observations, especially those concerning suffrage and campaign finance, deserve serious consideration. Of particular note, the observers took issue with the obvious – the unequal weight of voters depending on the districts in which they reside. For example, East End’s 692 registered voters have a disproportionately greater impact in their district’s elections than, say, the 1,513 registered voters in Bodden Town East. The Sister Islands are also way out of balance. Observers also voiced concerns about lengthy residency requirements for voters – even those of Caymanian status – and the exclusion of permanent residents from voting. This is the junction at which voting rights and human rights oftentimes collide. But some of the most troubling shortcomings found by observers are in the area of campaign finance.Full Article: EDITORIAL — A post-election assessment of our electoral process | Cayman Compass.
The Cambodian government should rescind its recent order restricting independent election monitoring groups, Human Rights Watch said today. On July 4, 2017, a month after the country’s flawed commune elections, the Interior Ministry issued a letter to two election-monitoring organizations to cease their activities in alleged violation of the country’s nongovernmental organization law. The government’s action sets the stage for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to broaden restrictions on election monitoring prior to the 2018 national elections. “The Cambodian government appears intent on quashing any challenges to its political control – and obviously doesn’t want any witnesses,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Cambodia’s donors should call for the government to rescind these orders and ensure independent monitoring of the 2018 elections.”Full Article: Cambodia: Revoke Ban on Election Monitors | Human Rights Watch.
More than 800 election monitors will be deployed nationwide to observe and make independent reports on the National Election. Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said yesterday the international and local monitors will report back to their respective organisations, heads of governments and the government on the credibility of the PNG election process. “We have invited international election monitors or observers to visit during the months of June and July to see whether we have planned well for the election and also see if we followed the rule of law and the election laws on conducting the 2017 National Election,” Mr Gamato said in a statement.Full Article: 800 plus observers soon to be deployed - Post Courier.
Transparency International has pledged a rapid assessment of potential irregularities in Sunday’s commune elections by sending 1,100 observers across Cambodia—including, if needed, by boat and helicopter. At a news conference in Phnom Penh on Monday, Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said USAID had donated nearly $200,000 to fund the Election Day operations, in which a sample of 410 polling stations out of 22,148 would be observed. The plan was to produce a report more quickly than other organizations carrying out comprehensive assessments, Mr. Kol said.Full Article: Election Monitor: Sample-Based Observation Most Effective - The Cambodia Daily.
In response to an invitation by the Gambian authorities, the European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to The Gambia to observe the Parliamentary elections scheduled for 6 April 2017. This would be the first time the EU would be deploying a fully-fledged EOM in The Gambia, reflecting the EU’s commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country in a framework of broader democratic reforms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, has appointed Mr Miroslav Poche, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer.Full Article: Gambia: EU Deploys Election Observation Mission to the Gambia - allAfrica.com.
To varying degrees, the post-Soviet states of Central Asia are governed by autocrats. These ruling elites have little to no interest in democratic governance, monopolising politics helping those in power to stay in power – in some cases, for life. Last month, Turkmenistan’s president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was re-elected with 97% of the vote. In neighbouring Uzbekistan, acting president Shavkat Mirziyoyev won elections held in December 2016 with 89% of the vote. In cementing his position, Mirziyoyev slammed the door on hopes for a more pluralist approach to politics than his late predecessor, Islam Karimov who has ruled the state since it had started to exist. These political systems concentrate lawmaking and executive powers in the office of the president. From Tajikistan to Turkmenistan, political parties represented in parliaments are pro-regime and far from providing political alternatives. Any form of meaningful opposition has been extinguished by a policy of intimidation by powerful state security apparatuses. Consequently, the public mostly remains passive, and with no democratic structures, elections are a sham.Full Article: Is election observing in Central Asia a lost cause? | openDemocracy.
Indonesia: Election Commission to invite foreign observers to monitor Jakarta poll | Asian Correspondent
Indonesia’s General Elections Commission (KPU) says it will invite representatives of election commissions from across Southeast Asia and international NGOs that focus on the electoral process to observe the Jakarta gubernatorial election next month. According to Jakarta Post, the KPU will host its “Election Visit” program for the poll on Feb 15 and give observers a chance to monitor the vote. KPU commissioner Sigit Pamungkas said the program to be held at the KPU office in Central Jakarta from Feb 13 to 16 is aimed at introducing Indonesia’s election system to other countries. “We will invite the participants to monitor polling stations across Jakarta on election day. They will hopefully get an idea about the electoral process in Indonesia,” Sigit told Jakarta Post. “Apart from observing our elections, they could also share how elections are run in their respective countries,” he added.Full Article: Indonesia: Election Commission to invite foreign observers to monitor Jakarta poll - Asian Correspondent.
On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a group of international election experts who observed the Nov. 8 election have suggested overhauling the United States’ “particularly unique” Electoral College system, which gave Trump the presidency. The changes, the group from the Organization of American States said, should be made to keep candidates from focusing just on battleground states. The group also raised concerns about the rise in polarizing and divisive rhetoric in U.S. campaigning and criticized Trump for making threats to restrict journalists’ access and for threatening legal action against them for expressing their views. The group’s report noted the claims of Russian interference in the election, but made no assessment of their accuracy or impact on the outcome. The report was similar in tone to those that U.S. observers make on elections in foreign nations and was noteworthy primarily because it was the first time OAS experts had monitored a U.S. election – something that resonated deeply in Latin America, where the United States has long advocated OAS monitoring for other nations.Full Article: International observers recommend changes to U.S. electoral system | McClatchy DC.
The former British colony of Gambia goes to the polls on Thursday (1 December) for an election which could see the defeat of incumbent Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the tiny West African country for 22 years. There will be no EU election observers or observers from the Economic Community of West African States at the vote, in a country which has seen years of hardship and a mass exodus of migrants heading for Europe. Gambians make up the largest group per capita of arrivals to Italy by the Mediterranean, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration. Jammeh once declared he would govern “for a billion years if God willed it”, but he faces a united opposition and frustration over the economy which has dominated the campaign. Around 880,000 Gambians are expected at the polls on Thursday in the tiny former British colony, a narrow sliver of land mostly surrounded by French-speaking Senegal.Full Article: No EU observers at Gambia’s election – EurActiv.com.
The Electoral Commission of Ghana has begun approving local and international poll observer groups to monitor the December 7 presidential and legislative elections. The electoral commission, however, says groups affiliated with political parties would not be allowed to monitor the polls. The criteria that poll observer groups must meet before their applications are considered include the name of the poll monitoring group, the leadership and composition of the group and their experience in election observation together with their passport pictures as well as their contact information. “We have received a number of applications to observe the elections in the country,” said Eric Dzakpasu, spokesman for the electoral commission. The commission has also received a number of applications from local and international observers, as well as foreign missions and embassies, he added.Full Article: Ghana Electoral Commission Approves Election Monitors.
A report from international election observers on their preliminary findings on U.S. elections starts off promisingly. “The 8 November general elections were highly competitive,” they said, “and demonstrated commitment to fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association.” The observers also commended local election officials for their competence and professionalism. But that’s about where the positivity ends. Hundreds of election monitors from around the world fanned out across the United States on Tuesday to ensure free and fair elections, as well as to document the process for the benefit of their home nations. About 300 of them were brought to the United States by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE’s report damns the U.S. elections with faint praise, and then gets to the meat of the issue: Too many voting machines are faulty, and huge portions of the population can’t vote anyhow.Full Article: European poll watchers report myriad flaws in U.S. elections - The Washington Post.
As the country gears up for Election Day, concerns over Donald Trump’s “rigged election” rhetoric have created concerns about polling locations across the United States on November 8, with Mr. Trump encouraging his supporters to “watch the polls” to prevent voter fraud. Critics claim that voter fraud is not a statistically significant problem and that Trump’s “poll watchers” could be a potentially hazardous intimidation tactic. To combat the possibility of voter intimidation, especially during the first presidential election following the 2013 Supreme Court curtailment of the Voting Rights Act, many voting rights groups are stepping up to make sure the election goes smoothly and fairly. Most recently, advocates in California announced that they will monitor more polling places than usual in that state, joining a nationwide movement to combat potential voter suppression.Full Article: Why voting rights groups are facing pressure in the upcoming election - CSMonitor.com.
National: Why the Justice Dept. Will Have Far Fewer Watchdogs in Polling Places | The New York Times
For the first time since the days of poll taxes and literacy tests a half-century ago, the Justice Department will be sharply restricted in how it can deploy some of its most powerful weapons to deter voter intimidation in the presidential election. Because of a Supreme Court ruling three years ago, the department will send special election observers inside polling places in parts of only four states on Election Day, a significant drop from 2012, when it sent observers to jurisdictions in 13 states. And in a departure from a decades-old practice, observers will be sent to only one state in the South, where a history of discriminatory voting practices once made six states subject to special federal scrutiny. The pullback worries civil rights advocates, who say that Donald J. Trump’s call for his supporters to monitor a “rigged” electoral system could lead to intimidation of minority voters at polling places.Full Article: Why the Justice Dept. Will Have Far Fewer Watchdogs in Polling Places - The New York Times.
The State Department on Thursday accused Moscow of a “PR stunt” after reports emerged that the U.S. had rejected Russia’s request to send delegates to “monitor” November’s polls — the latest twist in a bizarre election season sullied by accusations of Russian meddling. Kremlin-backed news outlets such as RT, sometimes citing other media, reported Thursday that representatives of Russia’s Central Elections Commission had talked to the State Department about sending a delegation to watch the U.S. polls on Nov. 8. Although allowing in foreign observers to watch Americans vote is nothing new, “U.S. officials categorically rejected even the possibility of such a mission” by Russia, RT reported. The U.S. is “suffering from some sort of persecutory delusion,” a Russian lawmaker was quoted as saying. “They imagine that Russians want to distort their elections and somehow intend to do it while acting as observers.”Full Article: State Dept. accuses Russia of 'PR stunt' in election-monitoring flap - POLITICO.
Pennsylvania: As GOP warns of voter fraud, Democrats quietly register more poll watchers in ‘fraud-filled’ Philadelphia | PennLive
It’s been the secret and sometimes not-so-secret front of this election: Behind the scenes, efforts are underway on both sides of the aisle to amass armies of eagle-eyed volunteers to be dispatched to the polls on Nov. 8 to watch for signs of voter fraud. But in Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold where Republican Donald Trump has warned the possibility of voter fraud is particularly acute, officials say it is the Democrats who lead in registering poll watchers, despite more oft-invoked Republican concerns about the integrity of the city’s electoral process. “Out of 66 wards, approximately 33 wards have applied on the Democratic side [to have lists of poll watching volunteers vetted and approved],” Joe Lynch, an assistant administrator of election activities with the city, told PennLive on Tuesday. By comparison, Republicans have only submitted such lists for 8 wards, Lynch added.Full Article: As GOP warns of voter fraud, Dems quietly register more poll watchers in 'fraud-filled' Philadelphia | PennLive.com.